Lord Justice Judge, the deputy chief justice, warned that media attacks on the judiciary could also undermine the public’s faith in the independence of the press.
In a keynote address he said an independent judiciary was no less important than the press in protecting freedom.
Lord Justice Judge told the conference: “I do sometimes wonder if the way the media comments on the administration of justice does not significantly damage the confidence of the public in the principle of judicial independence and, if it does, whether simultaneously there may be also an erosion in the public’s confidence in an untrammelled press.”
He argued the media has to do more than make assertions about freedom of the press. It had to educate the public and provide the arguments and reasons why the press should not be restricted.
“The public has to understand why it is important and if they don’t you might fritter it away,” he said.
Lord Justice Judge said he supported the Press Complaints Commission but wondered why the press argued that “other people’s self-regulation didn’t work”.
Dominic Ponsford and Jon Slattery report from the 2004 Law for Journalists conference